St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, Sydney 08/02/2009

I hate festivals that are held on Sunday. I always end up having to make a desperate dash to catch the first acts I want to see, made so much more difficult by the ever present hangover and Sunday drivers, and while the same happened this year when it came time to go to Laneway, what I saw when I got there more than made up for the usual tribulations associated with the Sabbath.

The problem with Laneway is also what makes it so good. With stages no more than a stones throw apart, the lines for everything are long and there is a constant sea of people milling around, but the vibe is so chilled out most people just cruise on by and go with the flow. I am not most people, and rather than cruising on the sea I was being pitched to and fro amongst the violet ocean of fake wayfarers and side fringed girls.

The music was great though. Sherlock’s Daughter playing early were a revelation for anyone luck enough to catch them, and Tame Impala were so good, they even managed to break through my wall of cynicism, getting my beeewwgie on like your Mum and Dad on their wedding night.

No Age, Jay Reatard, The Temper Trap, Four Tet, Daedelus, Rusko and Harmonic 313 all gave solid performances, playing to a crowd so rife with vibrations you’d be forgiven for mistaking them for a lonely widow. However, there were a handful of acts that really made the day.

Tim Fite was another unexpected delight, sounding like a mix between Ween and Sage Francis, he and his partner in crime 9who spent most of the gig walking round the crowd and left the stage with a female fan over his shoulder) delivered strange stories and booty shakin’ party raps, while he was accompanied by perfectly in time footage of himself playing the backing tracks or childish illustrations depicting his twisted tales. He even gave us an eye test.

The Drones as always had be oozing puss out of my eye sockets in joy and exaltation. Their set was unfortunately interrupted by more than a few technical difficulties, but the band delighted us with witty banter, even getting the crowd to sing happy birthday to guitarist Dan Ludscombe.

Finally Girl Talk. Now this was the one part of the festival I found disappointing. GT himself was on his game like a nerd on Star Wars memorabilia, but with the whole crowd being channelled into a narrow laneway, it was near impossible to get a good spot where you could dance let alone get a view of GT’s manic stage show as he frequently jumped into the audience pulling people up on stage and violently disrobing.

Also it would seem there was a disconcerting amount of douchebags there just to see GT, as shirtless, southern crossed tattooed higher primates seemed to inundate the festival around this time. When all of a sudden their fake tanned and breasted bitches began an excited out of tune chorus as GT dropped Single Ladies, I left, the sour smell of muscle oil and hairspray choking me as I did.

Pivot as always were great, giving us a taste of some new material as well as favourites from O Soundtrack My Heart, but due to an incredible amount of gear malfunctions, their bass amp dying just when it was needed during the last song, it lacked the seamless perfection I’ve come to expect, but you can hardly blame them as this wasn’t the first time I’ve suffered through such problems at the basement.

All in all it was a great day, though it would be way better on a Saturday.

Photos by Kurt Davies

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